When Lawrence wrote "Mediaeval Monasticism" I'm pretty sure he didn't realise how much easier he was making my life. As a student of mediaeval history I know how dry and tedious studying the different mediaeval monastic orders can be. This book completely turns that idea on its head - I even read the chapters I didn't have to! Its easy on the eyes, the prose isn't terrifyingly dense and the chapters are portioned into relevant headings. It slides down nice and easy. Endlessly convenient for those essays on Dominicans and Franciscans. Treasure it as an academic book which is both well written and accesible. They're a sad rarity.
An excellent book that brings life to what are now frequently the ruins of mediaeval monasteries. This book will inspire many of it's readers to go out a look at the physical remains of mediaeval monasteries with new insight. After reviewing the origins of monasticism Lawrence proceeds to tell how the conflict between the ascetic christian ideal of monasticism conflicted with the power of the mediaeval catholic church. Each attempt to return to the ascetic ideal producing a new order of monks. And how changes in ideology and prctices influenced the architecture and decoration of mediaeval monastic buildings. Lawrence brings the (often turbulent) mediaeval church to life imparting character and life to physical remains (monastic ruins) that can seem monolithic to modern eyes.
This is a fairly thorough beginning medieval studies book. I assessed the book at (4) stars, only because the book read like a textbook. That is, it was easily forgettable. I can't put my finger on why I didn't really like it, as I find the subject of the book very interesting. Maybe the book tries to cover too much.